2 out of 4 stars
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In “Book of Little Short Stories, Volume 1”, Delores Cole presents vignettes steeped in her Native American history. Each story comes equipped with a moral or lesson, many based in the belief systems inherent to the broad Native American culture. Ms. Cole’s imagination shines brilliantly through her writing; she spins tales of spirits and magic inspired by worlds of which one might only dream.
Ms. Cole’s desire to pass on the wisdom of her culture drives her creative spirit. Her short stories last, at the most, ten pages, but she packs each one with moral lessons. While every tale contains a different nugget of truth, the overarching theme of these stories is finding one’s identity within one’s self and using that as a motivation and a reason to follow one’s dreams. Regardless of who plays the lead in each act—usually a Native American or a young girl searching for identity—the reader follows them on a journey of self-discovery.
I appreciate the author’s passion for her theme, as well as her respect for her Native American heritage. The key conflict facing teenagers and young adults—and even older adults who do not settle this issue in earlier years—is finding a locus of identity from which they can grow and dream. Throughout her collection, Ms. Cole addresses this issue by writing about the benefits of trusting yourself rather than looking for external motivators and sources of identity. She sometimes even steps out of the story to address the reader individually, encouraging him or her to step out on a journey of self-discovery. While this writing technique tends to be a bit jarring at times, it can also be effective in conveying a point about which the author demonstrates a good deal of passion.
My favorite of the stories in this volume is “Short Bedtime Stories”, a series of even shorter tales directed mainly toward young children. Though not all of the bedtime stories lend themselves well to youngsters about to drift into dreamland, they are generally pleasant to read without having to invest a great deal of time into them, similar in a way to Aesop’s Fables. Ms. Cole expresses herself most clearly in small samples of her writing, and her charming ideas make for cute and novel tales for children in this compilation within a compilation.
However, charming ideas do not a proficient author make. Writing a book of any type takes a great deal of dedication and commitment, so I can’t help but wonder why Ms. Cole, after investing so much time and energy into her project, did not also invest in the services of a proofreader or editor. While she possesses remarkable talent for spinning stories in her mind, she does not have the same fluency on paper. The grammar in this book is inappropriately used and sometimes downright unreadable. I’m not referring to split infinitives or overuse of verbs of being—subjects I view as more complex issues of the English language. No, I could hardly get past issues like subject-verb disagreement, verb tense confusion, double negatives, and—the problem that caused me to shudder the most—incorrect use of past and present perfect (i.e. “have came”).
The sentence structure and vocabulary usage also seems quite young. The writing settles comfortably in the 5th-7th grade reading level on both the Raygor Readability and Fry graphs, yet I believe Ms. Cole’s target audience to be adult, or at the very least, mid-teens. This, along with the grammar issues mentioned above, made it difficult for me to finish reading this volume, especially as the stories became more and more similar in theme and character the further I progressed into the collection of stories.
Overall, I give “Book of Little Short Stories, Volume 1” 2 out of 4 stars. Unfortunately, Ms. Cole’s passion for her subject matter was stunted by her inexpert writing style. However, I could not give this book a 1 because, should Ms. Cole wish to revise her writing or employ a proofreader, her ideas and creativity possess enough power to produce an inspiring collection of short stories.
Book of Little Short Stories VOL. 1
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